Dreams are powerful. In two days I’ll celebrate my 28th birthday and go on a retreat with my fiancé (one of many preparations we are required to make for marriage within the Catholic Church). Like Sharon Olds, I always dreamed, but never knew if, I would make it to marriage—to committing my life to someone who is just as committed, someone who has been the real source of a sense of home I never knew, but always wished I could have. 28, by the way, was an age I seemed to encounter often when I lived in New York—my acting classes were full of 28-year-olds who had recently given up other pursuits to focus on their art.
Now, here I am, changing too and dreaming a lot, and I have made a pretty stellar Jungian realization. I happened the other day while I was thinking about the reading I am going to do of my poems for my UCLA Extension class on September 3rd. Here’s what I suddenly remembered—long ago, at a particularly desperate moment, feeling unmoored after returning from wonderful Edinburgh, I was listening to a lot of video meditations to sleep. One day I found one that was called something corny, like Hypnosis for Your Life’s Purpose…I did it, and experienced a lot of mental images I couldn’t make sense of at the time.
I proceeded to forget all about this experience until the other day, when I pondered my upcoming reading, and two images from this old meditation suddenly clicked into my mind. The first image: digging out the leather-bound notebook with the Buddha on it that I’d bought on St. Mark’s, within which I’d first tried my hand at writing poems. (I'd finished my experiment and shelved the notebook for years, feeling nothing--I thought--but mild embarrassment.) The second image: standing alone on a black box stage, addressing an audience. (At the time I puzzled hard over what this meant. Not give up acting after all? I thought about it in small terms, then forgot all about this too.) As these images popped back into my head the other day like lightning, it occurred to me that, come September 3rd, I will be 1) taking poems I wrote, and 2) reading them to an audience on a black box stage.
It’s so spooky to see this long-forgotten dream image come true—and this coming from the Milan Kundera-esque queen of over-attributing coincidences (though as the child of anti-religious parents I didn’t always allow myself to be so woo-woo). So, in the interest of science, I went back in my YouTube history today, to see when exactly I had done that meditation. Was it a year ago? A year and a half?
I was surprised to find that I listened to that video way back on September 24, 2017. That was a month or so before I decided to restart The Artist’s Way to find things in life that brought me a bit of joy. That was six months before, desperate and confused, I listened to some Bowie, prayed for what to do next, went to sleep, and dreamed some scenes that became the start of my novel. That was a year and a half before I got engaged, and my engagement set off a crisis with a parent that would force me to reevaluate a key relationship and come head to head yet again (on a more honest level than before) with all the trauma and lingering hurts from my childhood, the source of the disconnection that had alienated me from what I want in the first place. That was a whole year before I would dare to ask myself on a profound level, “What would I do if I didn’t need to get approval from my parents?” That was two whole years before next month, when the two dream images that I couldn’t even understand back then will come…true.
It’s so strange sometimes—and I know I’m beating a dead horse about this now, but it’s blown my mind—how the world and our lives move in a way beyond our comprehension, how we are brought to our own healing without even knowing why or how, how something beyond us allows us to open ourselves up more and more to how gentle and easy we could be. I am endlessly perplexed by how some people seem to miss this boat, to become more embittered and closed off as the years go on, while others seem to change and evolve, and there’s really no fairness to which of us are assigned growth and change, and which of us just a repetition of unconscious patterns. Ultimately, I think all of us are a given a chance to change, and it’s up to us to surrender to it.
There you have it…I’ve just said pretty much the same thing every religion and rehab group on the planet has ever said, so I won’t go too far into repeating millennia of wisdom. I just hope that maybe by expressing these things to people, or at least putting them out there in a way I can clarify for myself, I might make it a little easier for others—or myself! for how often we backslide!—to feel and know that the truth that is ultimately much more important than what we are brought up to be, or who we think we are.